Reading a Quaker\u27s Book: Elizabeth Ashbridge\u27s Testimony of Quaker Literary Theory


Elizabeth Ash bridge offers one of the most striking transatlantic spiritual autobiographies of the eighteenth century. While historians and scholars alike have given careful attention to this now-canonical text, no one to date has yet positioned this narrative in the context of the transatlantic Friends\u27 unique literary traditions. Turning to the first generation of Friends, who also cal led themselves \u27The Publishers of Truth\u27 , this essay explores the Quakers\u27 mystical relationship to language, prophecy and writing, and their subsequent creation of a New Word. I trace how the Friends created their own literary theory, locating the written word as the site of divine opening. They consequently created a religious print culture, perceiving their literature as a spiritual and political force which had the power to convince, to heal, and to usher in the apocalyptic world. Elizabeth Ashbridge\u27s spiritual autobiography upholds and reflects this tradition in the eighteenth century: framed around her pivotal moment of reading a Quakers\u27 Book, hers is ultimately a text about spiritual literacy and the act of reading - the sacred act which transforms lives. Placing her work in relation to other Quaker women diarists, Spiritual Mothers and Traveling Ministers, I consider how Ashbridge\u27s narrative represents the transatlantic religious reading culture among Friends which intentionally fostered and influenced succeeding generations of readers and writers

Similar works

Full text


Digital Commons @ George Fox University

Provided original full text link
oaioai:digitalcommons.geo...Last time updated on 11/11/2016

This paper was published in Digital Commons @ George Fox University.

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.